If you want to grow close as a couple, then you have to be committed to cultivating spiritual intimacy. This is one of the greatest challenges for couples to initiate in their marriage.
While it isn’t specifically gender related, many husbands hesitate in this area because they really don’t know what steps to take. They haven’t opened up much about their spirituality with anyone, let alone with their wife. And for wives, while they would like their husbands to take spiritual leadership, they aren’t sure how to broach the subject or what they would like their husband to do! And so what tends to happen is that couples don’t do anything to cultivate spiritual intimacy and they miss out on the joy and the unity which God desires for them.
The good news is that it isn’t that complicated of a process! What is required, however, is an initiator. We recommend that the husband be the initiator in cultivating spiritual intimacy in the marriage, but if he is reticent to do so, then certainly the wife can get the ball rolling!
Here are three simple things that you can do in your marriage starting today:
Read The Bible Together
Early in our marriage we set aside time before going to bed to simply read the Bible together. These weren’t marathon reading sessions—some nights it was no more than a paragraph or two. But we began to work our way through different books of the Bible, and little by little over about three years we read much of the New Testament! This didn’t take the place of spending our individual time alone with God, but it drew us closer together as we would read Scripture and sometimes have conversation after the reading.
If you aren’t sure where to start, perhaps you can start in the Gospel of John or in a very practical and applicational book like James. If your schedule doesn’t allow for the two of you to spend time every day reading the Bible, then figure out which days of the week work best for you. Then try to discipline yourselves to incorporate this into the fabric of your marriage.
Statistically, only about 5% of Christian couples actually pray together. And yet prayer is one of the most important things that you can do for the long-term stability of your marriage. In his book, Relationship Rescue, Dr. Phil writes about…
“… an interesting statistic shared by David McLaughlin in his wonderful series entitled The Role of the Man in the Family reflects that the divorce rate in America is at a minimum one out of two marriages. But the reported divorce rate among couples that pray together is about one in ten thousand. Pretty impressive statistic, even if you reduce it a thousandfold.”
We talk about this in-depth when we speak at conferences, but this doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just hold hands, and simply say a prayer asking for God’s favor on your marriage, your family, and your endeavors. Usually the person who is least accustomed to praying out loud should pray first, then the person who is more accustomed to praying should simply match that prayer in length and style. That levels the “praying field” and creates a safer environment in which to open up a very personal part of one’s life.
It’s easy to look at all of the things that are going wrong in life. Our money might be tight, health may be challenged, relationships may be stressed. Make it a practice in your marriage to talk about all of the good things that God is bringing into your life: food on the table, a roof over your head, friends who care about you, and a church home where you belong. As you practice verbally expressing thanks for all that God has given, your mutual faith and trust in God will grow and draw you closer together as you face the future hand-in-hand.
What have you done which has been helpful in cultivating spiritual intimacy as you Build Your Marriage?